Saturday, January 11, 2020

The Fruit Of The Spirit: KINDNESS (For Younger Kids)


Today I am continuing my series on the Fruit Of The Spirit! If you've missed any of my previous posts in this series, you can find them on the Index page or by looking under the "Labels" heading in the right-hand column. You can also use the search function!



Remember, these letters are free to share with your sponsored children! Feel free to copy and paste, editing the parts in bold to suit your/your child's needs!

Dear (Name),
Greetings in Jesus' Name, my little prince/princess!
Once again, I am happy to be able to share another letter about the Fruits of the Spirit with you. So far, I have written about Love, Joy, Peace, and Patience. So today, I want to talk about KINDNESS.
What is KINDNESS? The meaning of kindness is being caring, helpful, and considerate of others. The best way I can explain kindness, is to tell you about something that happened to me. A few years ago, I got sick and had to go to the hospital. I was allowed to come home the next day, but I was very tired and not able to do very much. I was surprised when I heard someone knocking on my door. A lady from the church had heard that I was sick, and she came to visit me and make sure that I was okay. She brought me soup, biscuits, and also made sure that I was taking the medicine the doctor had given me. I believe that it was because of her kindness to me, that I recovered so quickly. I will always be grateful that she took the time to listen to God and show me kindness. (You can edit this part to tell a story of a time when someone was kind to you!)
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:32, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other just as God in Christ forgave you." God wants us to be kind to others, because God Himself has been kind to us!
Not only does God want us to be kind to each other, He also wants us to speak kindly to others as well. Proverbs 16:24 says, "Kind words are like honey: sweet to the soul and healthy for the body."
Today, I have a special mission for you. It's a Kindness Challenge! I am sending you four bookmarks. Use scissors to cut out the bookmarks. If you don't have scissors at home, you can ask an adult at your Compassion center to help you cut them apart. You can keep one of the bookmarks for yourself. Then, my challenge for you is to find three children at your Compassion center who don't have sponsors yet, or who don't get any letters from their sponsors. Give them a bookmark and tell them that Jesus loves them and that someone in (sponsor's country) is praying for them! The next time you write to me, you can let me know if you were able to complete the challenge. I look forward to hearing all about it!
I love you so much (Name)... I am so proud of you and I know that God has given you a kind heart!
Love, (your name)

Along with this letter, I included the Lemon/Kindness coloring page as found at Christian Preschool Printables.

And there's a selection of gorgeous free printable bookmarks at BookmarkBee.com, including some with crosses!

*Note: As always, we recommend that you stay away from Halloween or monster-themed bookmarks for your Compassion children!

Happy Writing!



Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Free Printable Stationery Round-Up!


There's nothing quite like receiving an old-fashioned letter, is there?

I'm incredibly grateful for technology, especially when it comes to writing my Compassion children. Postage is so expensive these days, and I love the fact that I can send photos, coloring pages, mazes, puzzles, bookmarks, and cartoons to my children with just a few clicks of a button.

However, there's something soothing about sitting down with a pretty piece of stationery and a pen or pencil, and jotting down a few words of encouragement. One of the things I love best about Compassion International's letter-writing system, is the fact that we can scan and upload a hand-written letter that will be translated, printed, and sent to our kids. It's the best of both words... handwritten letters AND cutting edge technology!



With this in mind, I wanted to do a round-up of all my favorite sites for FREE printable stationery that's easy to download, print, and use! Pretty stationery comes in handy for a lot of things, not just writing our kids. Maybe a church member is in the hospital and you want to send them an encouraging note. Maybe you want to copy a few favorite recipes for your granddaughter who just went to college. Maybe your son is in the military and you want to send a letter with some photos. Whatever the case, I hope you find these resources helpful!

Remember, this stationery doesn't belong to me. Please be sure to follow the usage instructions listed on each individual website!


My go-to website when looking for lined stationery is StationeryTree.com They have several pages of bright, colorful stationery with different themes such as flowers, animals, music, hearts, polka-dots, and more! The first thing you might see when you click on a sheet of stationery is a price. But don't worry, that's just if you want to purchase an entire bundle with no watermarks. If you scroll down a little, you'll see an option to download that individual sheet (with a small watermark at the bottom) for absolutely free!

Another website I love is PageBorders.org These sheets don't have lines, but you can print them using lined paper if you prefer! Page borders are also great if you prefer typing your letters... you can even use them as borders for photos! These individual sheets also display a price of 99 cents, but don't worry, if you scroll down you will see a place to download them with a small watermark for free!

GraphicGarden.com  has several different types of mostly pastel-shaded free printables, such as bookmarks, recipe cards, labels, etc., but the main draw for me is the stationery! Their teddy bear stationery is so cute and fun, and everyone will enjoy it... children and adults alike!



If you are writing to someone who enjoys cartoon characters, FamilyShoppingBag.com is for you! You'll find everything from Frozen and Doc McStuffins to Paw Patrol and Thomas the Tank Engine. Along with printable stationery, they also have party invitations, bookmarks, shopping lists, and more!

PageBorders.net is another great place to find page borders that can be used for writing letters or using as photo frames! They have several borders that look like certificate edging; comes in handy if you like to design your own "You did it!" or "Congratulations Big Brother!" awards like I do!

Do you like getting your kids or grandkids involved in the letter-writing process? If so, you may enjoy PrintNPractice.com. They have a lot of writing worksheets along with simple, wide-lined stationery for younger writers or hands that struggle with forming letters.

If you like simple, colorful, lined writing paper, you'll probably like PrintThisToday.com. They have a large variety of Valentine-themed and Winter-themed stationery, along with others.

And last but not least, PrintableTreats.com has a variety of cute stationery designed especially for Compassion sponsors!



*Note: Compassion recommends that sponsors steer clear of any themes which might be upsetting or frightening for children. It's best to avoid themes like monsters, zombies, guns and weapons, war and military themes (some children come from war zones and/or have seen a lot of fighting and gun- or gang-related violence), Halloween, and characters wearing skimpy/revealing clothing or bikinis (due to different cultural beliefs about modesty, etc.) Pokemon is also included in the list because of the fact that the characters may be used as symbols of gang affiliation in some countries.

I hope you found this list helpful! Please feel free to share some of your favorite resources for printable stationery in the comments below!

Have fun writing!


Monday, December 9, 2019

Canadian Animals: The Perky Puffin (For All Ages)


One thing that a lot of our kids have in common with us is that they love animals! Whether it's a wild animal they have near their homes or a pet animal such as a cat, dog, or even a pet chicken or pet cow, a lot of our kids are super interested in animals and love learning about new ones!



I got a lot of great responses from my kids when I wrote about beavers. Some kids said they had never heard of them before, but all agreed, the busy beaver is an amazing little critter!

So in keeping with the "Canadian Animals" theme, I decided to write about puffins next. I found a whole passel of perky and playful puffin printables! (Pronounce that five times fast!)

As always, feel feel to copy the letter text to send to your sponsored children! You can edit the parts in bold to fit you and your child's circumstances!

Hello my friend (Name)!
Today I am going to tell you about another animal that we have here in Canada... the Puffin! A Puffin is a small water bird. They are about 25 cm or about 10 inches long. They are very common on the island of Newfoundland, where I live (obviously you can leave this part out if you're not from Newfoundland!)
A Puffin is very easy to recognize. They have black backs and white bellies, with bright orange feet that are webbed like a duck's feet. This helps them to swim very well. They are also excellent divers and can swim a long way under water! A Puffin's most interesting feature is its beak, which is big and brightly coloured.
A Puffin's beak helps it to catch tiny fish, which it eats. I am including a photo of a puffin holding several fish in it's mouth! Puffins are sea birds, so they never travel very far from the ocean! Puffins also have waterproof feathers, which protect them as they swim in the freezing cold ocean.
Puffins can live for up to 20 years, and a male and female Puffin couple will usually stay together their whole lives!
Puffins are very interesting because they don't build nests like regular birds. Instead, they dig holes in the ground! A Puffin may dig its own hole, or it may take over an empty rabbit burrow or a hole dug by another animal. Female Puffins lay only one egg at a time. After 36-45 days, the egg hatches and a little baby Puffin called a "Puffling" comes out! Both the mother and father Puffin work together to take care of the egg and the baby Puffling.
Puffins are very funny birds. Their eyes and brightly coloured beaks often look as if they are smiling. Puffins love to eat fish and sometimes, they are greedy and will eat so many fish that they get too heavy to fly! Then they must sit and wait a little while until they can fly again.
I am sending you some Puffin pictures and activities... I hope you have a lot of fun with them!
I hope you enjoyed learning about these cute and funny birds! What kind of birds do you have in your country?
Your friend, (Your name)

If you're looking for photos to include with your letter, there are some great pictures on Wikimedia Commons! Check out their Puffin entry!

Pixabay also has tons of gorgeous Puffin photos that are free to use!

With my letter, I included this gorgeous Puffin Maze from Paul M. Woodruff!

At SuperColoring, you can find a pile of neat Puffin coloring sheets!

How about a Puffin worksheet? This is great for kids that are old enough to write on their own and make a list of everything they've learned about puffins!

If you have kids that speak English, they might enjoy this Puffin word worksheet! How many words can you make from "Atlantic Puffin"?

Now this is super cool! How about a Puffin paper bag puppet? (Make sure to check the mailing guidelines of the organization you sponsor through to see if these can be sent!)


Last but not least, Connect the Dots 101 has a big selection of Puffin connect-the-dots!

Have fun writing to your kids!

The Fruit Of The Spirit: PATIENCE (For Younger Kids)


We are continuing with our series on The Fruits of The Spirit for younger kids! If you missed the other posts, follow the links on the "Index" page or click on the "Bible Lessons" or "Fruit Of The Spirit" label in the right-hand sidebar.



Remember, you can copy and paste all of the letters on this blog to send to your children! They are free for you to use!

You can change the bold letter text to customize the letter to you/your child's needs!

Dear (Name),
Hello little Prince/Princess! It gives me so much joy to write you another letter!
In my past few letters, I have been talking to you about the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. Today, I want to talk about the fourth Fruit of the Spirit, which is PATIENCE! Patience is not just waiting for things, but it means having a good attitude while you wait. It means waiting without getting worried, excited, or anxious about having to wait. It is learning to wait without complaining. This is one of the hardest Fruits for me to learn. I don't like waiting for things!
One of the verses in the Bible that talks about PATIENCE is James 5:7. It says, "Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield a valuable crop, patiently waiting for the seasonal rains."
This is a good example of patience. When you plant seeds in the ground, you don't expect them to grow in one day! You have to pull up the weeds, keep the insects and wild animals away, and pray for rain; but mostly, you have to wait patiently for the crop to grow. Good things often take time.
Patience is something that we get lots of chances to practice! Whether it is taking turns on the playground, patiently waiting for a teacher to help you at school, waiting for a smaller sibling who walks much slower than you do, standing in line, waiting for your parents to finish speaking before you ask them a question, waiting to receive a letter, and even waiting to grow up... these are all times when we can practice waiting without complaining!
Did you know that God is also very patient? 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord isn't slow about keeping his promises, like some people think He is. In fact, God is patient, because he wants everyone to turn from sin and no one to be lost." It's so good to know that even though we make mistakes and do wrong things in our lives, God is always patiently waiting for us to seek Him so He can forgive us and help us.
Do you like puzzles? Putting a puzzle together sometimes requires a lot of patience! I am sending you a puzzle that shows all the Fruits of the Spirit. Ask one of your teachers or leaders at your Compassion project to let you use a pair of scissors. Ask them to help you carefully cut along the grey lines, until you have 20 squares. Mix the squares all up, and then try to put them together again! You can turn it into a game with your family and friends... see who can put the puzzle together the fastest!
I love you so much (Name)... let's pray for each other that God will help us to be patient! I will write again soon.
Love, (Your Name)

Along with this letter, I included the Fruits of the Spirit puzzle found at Christian Preschool Printables! It comes with a color and black & white version. I used the colored version, but you could also send the black & white version so your kiddos can color it however they want to!

I also included this juicy Orange/Patience coloring page from the same site!

Have fun writing to your kids!


Saturday, October 26, 2019

Loving Through The Void


If there's one thing that we Compassion sponsors hear over and over again, it's the importance of letters. How much the children love our letters, how much they value them, how special it makes them feel to hear from their sponsor. And many of us can attest to the truth of that... our children write long, glowing letters detailing how much they enjoy our photos and that they shared our letters with all their friends and family.

A child in Brazil writes a letter to her sponsor. Photo Copyright Compassion International.

But for some, it's not that simple. Sometimes, the stream of communication between you and your sponsored child seems more like a trickle, and sometimes it even dries up for a while. Sometimes the letters come regularly but are repetitive and ask the same questions over and over again, until it sounds more like a robot is writing instead of a child.

Why is that?

Every Compassion-assisted child is required to write at least two letters per year to their sponsor. If you haven't heard from your child in six months, you can request that Compassion staff do an inquiry. They will send a note to the child's project, requesting that they write a letter. I feel it's important to mention this... I have seen far too many otherwise well-meaning sponsors drop a child simply because they haven't heard from them in 2 - 3 months. Compassion staff are always happy to look into the situation if something doesn't seem right!

But beyond that, there could be several reasons why your child doesn't respond to your questions, or why they may not write for an extended period of time. Sometimes, the child may be absent from the project for one reason or another, on the scheduled writing day. Perhaps they or someone in their family is ill, perhaps they are visiting family in another community, etc.

Children generally bring their letters home with great excitement, to show their family. They tuck the letter into a safe spot, inside their schoolbooks or under their pillow, or maybe in a box that they keep especially for letters. When the next letter writing day comes around, the child may not have your letter handy, and so they may forget to answer a specific question you've asked.

Keep in mind that many cultures are based on oral traditions. Many children don't study the art of letter-writing as children do in the Western world. Perhaps you are the first and only person your child has ever written a letter to! In the beginning, they may need a lot of help and prompting, and letters may seem stiff and formal.

In order to help with the letter writing process, teachers and tutors may write an "example letter" on the blackboard, for the children to copy. Some children, of course, take this very literally and copy the same letter word for word each time. Don't be discouraged if this is the case... your child is likely putting in a tremendous amount of effort to compose the "perfect letter" that their sponsor will be happy with!

A young woman in Kenya wearing traditional Maasai dress looks at the camera.
Photo Copyright Compassion International.

Also, keep in mind that your child may be struggling in school. Children are able to be registered in Compassion's program up until 9 years of age, and many of them are finally able to attend school for the first time at that age. So it may take them a few years to learn how to write, and they will be assisted by a tutor who will write for them during this time. Some children with disabilities may never learn to write, and may rely on a tutor to write for them for their entire duration in Compassion's program. But even if the child never learns to read or write, a tutor is always available to read the children's letters out loud to them; and they still enjoy photos and stickers!

And sometimes, children just don't enjoy writing. If you are a parent, I'm sure you know that trying to get little Johnny or Suzy to write a thank-you note to Grandma or to write a paragraph for school, can be like pulling teeth at times. Some children are extremely bubbly and talkative in person, but when faced with a blank piece of paper, have no idea what to say. I think we all can identify with feeling that way occasionally!

And sometimes, the reason may be much deeper... which leads me to a story I feel that I should share with you.

A couple of years ago, I was assigned an older correspondent... a young lady. For her privacy, I won't share her name. I began writing enthusiastically.

Her first letter was stiff and stilted, but I really appreciated the effort she obviously went to. She also included a lovely drawing of a flower, which I cherished as I don't often receive drawings from my older students.

Her next letter, however, was even shorter and more stiff. Only a few lines. And her third letter wasn't even written by her, but by a staff member at her Compassion project. This continued.... for letter, after letter, after letter.

I will be the first to admit that I was discouraged. But I gritted my teeth and kept pouring love into her life. I created colorful photo collages, I searched for flowery stationery to use, I printed encouraging Bible verses on pretty paper, I told her how special she was and how beautiful she was and how much I loved her.

Image by occcu from Pixabay 


And still the letters continued, a few months apart, with the same few short lines each time and the same drawing of a flower.

It was during this time that Compassion was able to share with me a little bit of my sweet girl's history. She was 15 years old when I began to write her, and had been registered in the program since she was 5. Ten whole years. She had had more then one sponsor during that time, but had never received a letter.

My heart broke. As I mentioned above, every Compassion child is required to write their sponsors at least twice a year. I can only imagine this sweet child's pain, writing again and again into a void, with never an answer. Never a photograph. Never a word of encouragement. Never a "Happy Birthday" or "Merry Christmas" or "I love you." Years going by, watching her friends receive letters, and never one for her. I believe that, after a while, she simply gave up. Maybe she thought her sponsor didn't love her. Maybe she thought that she was somehow not good enough, or her letters weren't good enough, or that her sponsor simply didn't care. I don't know why her sponsor chose not to write, and I can't judge them for that... they may have been going through circumstances that I know nothing about.

What I do know, is that it seemed to be enough to make Sweet Girl give up on ever hearing from her sponsor. And even when I poured love and letters into her life, she was just too afraid, perhaps, to reach out. To take the chance of being hurt and rejected again. Maybe she believed it was just too good to be true.... I'll never know. So she sat with her tutor every couple of months, answered his questions, and drew a simple flower on the back of each letter.

And this is where the true heroes of the story stepped in: Staff at the Compassion International Office, and staff at Sweet Girl's Compassion center.

I was able to place an inquiry with Compassion U.S. staff. They agreed that since she had written her own first letter, she was clearly capable of writing on her own. It was odd for her letters to be continually written by her tutors, so they contacted the in-country office to get to the bottom of the mystery.

To this day, I have no idea what Sweet Girl's tutors told her. I can imagine they approached her with all the love and kindness in the world, and told her that her sponsor really wanted to hear from her. I'm sure they told her how much she was loved and how anxious her sponsor was to see a letter written in her own handwriting. And together, they decided that they would also send "Sponsor" a nice photo of Sweet Girl writing her letter, and another one of her standing and smiling proudly, holding the letter she'd written.

I have no idea what those dear tutors told her. But whatever they said, worked. The floodgates opened, and I began to receive two letters at a time from Sweet Girl. She poured her heart out. She answered my questions. She introduced me to her family. We bonded over our shared love of music. She asked for photos of my friends and sent her greetings to my family members.

The day that she opened her letter with, "Dear Auntie Hannah, I am so proud that you are my sponsor," I cried.

A child looks through a bundle of letters from her sponsor.
Photo Copyright Compassion International. 


What if I had given up on Sweet Girl.... what if I had stopped writing to her, or only sent her the bare minimum of letters?

I could never have done it, I know... because if I ever heard God speak to me in my life, I heard him when Sweet Girl joined my family. And what He said to me clearly was, "Fight for this child."

Fight for her. Pour love into her until it overflows and spills everywhere. Encourage her. Lift her up.

I would say the same to you, if you have a child that it seems impossible to connect with. Fight for them. Love them like you've never loved anyone before. Because the people who are the hardest to love, are often the ones who need it most. Don't give up.

"For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in
the thing for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11


Saturday, August 10, 2019

The Fruit Of The Spirit: PEACE (For Younger Kids)


Here is the next installment of my "Fruits of the Spirit" series for younger children! If you missed the other posts, follow the links on the "Index" page or click on the "Fruit of the Spirit" label in the right-hand sidebar.



Remember, you can copy and paste all of the letters on this blog to send to your children! They are free for you to use!

Dear (Name),
Hello my precious child! Greetings to you and your family in Jesus' Name!
Have you been enjoying my letters about the Fruits of the Holy Spirit? I have already written to you about LOVE and JOY. Today, I want to talk to you about the third Fruit of the Spirit, which is PEACE.
One of my favorite Bible verses about PEACE is in Psalm 4:8. It says, "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety." It can be hard to sleep when you are afraid or worried, but knowing that God cares for us, gives us peace. And when we have peace in our minds that God sees us and cares for us, we can sleep well. Peace is the opposite of worry and fear. Peace is having a calm feeling in your heart, that everything is going to be okay. Jesus Himself said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” Jesus says that He will give us peace if we ask.
In Romans 12:18 it says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” This means that not only can we have peace in our hearts and minds, but also that we should be peaceful towards other people. Here is an example of how you can be peaceful in a situation. Let's say you have an argument with one of your siblings, or with a friend. Maybe you want to yell at them. Instead, take a deep breathe of air to calm down first. Then, calmly and quietly, explain how you feel. This helps the other person to calm down and you can talk about things instead of fighting.
If you feel yourself getting really angry or upset or worried about something, it's good to go outside or find a place you can be alone for a while. Sit quietly and pray to God and ask Him to give you peace. After you take a few minutes to calm down, sometimes things don't seem as hard as they were at first.
I love you (Name), and I pray that God surrounds you and your family with peace! I am praying for you and I can't wait to get my next letter from you!
Love, your friend, (Your Name)

Along with this letter, I sent the Peace/Peach coloring page from Christian Preschool Printables.

I also included an illustrated image of John 14:27, which says, "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives, but as I give. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." You can find many beautiful illustrations using Google search, and you can choose the one you think your child would like best!

Have fun writing to your kids!